Pharmacare: Raising the Bar for Canadians

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Dr. Trevin StrattonToday’s guest blog comes from Dr. Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As Chief Economist, Dr. Stratton works with the Chamber’s policy team to advocate for public policies that will foster a strong, competitive economic environment that benefits businesses, communities, and families across Canada.


As the voice of business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce represents over 200,000 employers in Canada. Over the past few months, we’ve been asking our members about their thoughts on national pharmacare. The consensus is clear: employers agree that a national pharmacare program should raise the bar for Canadians and improve health outcomes.

Employers wholeheartedly believe in the distinctly Canadian value that no one in this country should lack access to the medicines they need. However, the fact is that most Canadians find the current system is working and they’re satisfied with their existing coverage.

86% of Canadians are satisfied that their private/group insurance is making medicine affordable and 82% are satisfied with the range of medicines covered. Overall, 77% of Canadians say that the medicines they need are affordable or “affordable enough.” Among those Canadians who received a prescription in the preceding six months, less than 1% indicated that they did not take their medication as prescribed because of cost.

Approximately 10% of Canadians are uninsured or underinsured. And 75% of Canadians believe it is quite or very important that “government shouldn’t spend on those who already have prescription drug coverage.” Our members agree that it’s not fiscally prudent to increase public sector debt to pay for a costly single-payer system when the existing system is working for most Canadians.

We believe that national pharmacare should provide the most appropriate coverage to those who need it. A national pharmacare program should ensure that Canadians have access to the best and most innovative medicines and health technologies. Perhaps most importantly for the health outcomes of Canadians, we need to ensure that a national pharmacare program does not reduce the coverage enjoyed by most Canadians under the existing system or result in coverage falling to the lowest common denominator. If the government is to move forward with a national pharmacare program, it must give Canadians an advantage over what the system currently offers.

To read the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s full response to the pharmacare consultation, click here.